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“My beloved little Inge, I wish you all the best for the New Year” 

In time for Rosh Hashana and the High Holidays, we share a series of letters in the our collection, written to Inge-Ruth Herrmann. These letters marked Inge-Ruth’s new beginnings in Australia with the best wishes of her loving parents in Germany. 

Most likely the first time spending the High Holidays away from her parents, sixteen year-old Inge-Ruth departed Germany for Australia in September 1938, just before Rosh Hashana. 

She travelled by boat to Sydney with her friend, Gisela Jankelowitz, to a place that her parents hoped “would assure [them] happiness and prosperity.” Her parents, Otto and Kate, remained in Magdeburg, Germany, where increasing anti-Jewish legislation caused them to lose their business and assets. 

Inge-Ruth Herrmman and Gisela Jankelowitz, SJM Collection

Inge-Ruth Herrmann and Gisela Jankelowitz. SJM Collection.

Two letters awaited Inge-Ruth in Australia. The first, dated 16 September 1938, was from her mother, in which she sent a message for the Jewish New Year: 

“My dearly beloved sweet child! When you receive this letter, you are on Australian soil and in your new homeland, God willing. On this occasion, my beloved little Inge, I wish you all the best for the New Year. The New Year is presenting your young life with great upheaval, courage to be far from your parents and spend the high holidays on the ship. I take it that you had surely a rather beautiful service on the ship, because there are so many Jews on board. May the dear God hear our prayers and keep us all in good health and guide us towards a better and happier future…” 

In her second letter, dated 26 September 1938, Inge-Ruth’s mother writes affectionately to her daughter, giving advice on how to dress and groom for the high holidays: 

Perhaps the sun will shine once again for us all and hopefully the time is not too far away when we will be reunited… Dress simply and nicely when you arrive in Sydney, and also straighten your hair, the first impression is decisive.” 

While Inge-Ruth established her new life in Australia, starting a new year afresh, her parents suffered under increasing antisemitism and the Final Solution in Nazi Germany.  

Otto was arrested in November 1938 and sent to Buchenwald for a brief period before being released. In October 1942 they were deported to Theresienstadt. Inge received no sign of life from her parents from 1944 and only learned years after the war that they were deported to Auschwitz in October 1944 where they were murdered. 

While this is a time during which to wish for positive things for the coming year, it is also a time to remember the victims of the Holocaust and those who survived but are no longer with us.

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